Posted Dec 2 2011 7:12AM
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The Los Angeles Lakers' two-year championship run, as well as Phil Jackson's time on their bench, came to a quick end in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals at the hands of a sweep by the Dallas Mavericks.
Enter Mike Brown and a new offense that will aim to take better advantage of the Lakers' frontline size. The question is whether or not Brown will catch any resistance from the player who led the league in usage rate last season: Kobe Bryant.
For sure, Brown figures to help the Lakers on defense, where they fell apart in the postseason.
Pace: 93.4 (20)
OffRtg: 107.9 (7)
DefRtg: 101.3 (6)
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
The Lakers have been a top-10 offensive team in 15 of the last 16 seasons, with the only exception being their championship season of 2009-10, when they ranked 11th. Defensively, they've been in the top six each of the last four years.
The 2010-11 Lakers were remarkably healthy. Six players in their rotation played all 82 games, and a seventh played 79. As a result, they had two of the five most-used lineups in the league, including one that played 72 minutes more than any other lineup.
The two Laker lineups above were both very successful. When they put the three perimeter starters on the floor with Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, they were even better, outscoring their opponents by more than 20 points per 100 possessions in 147 minutes.
Overall, when the Lakers had Derek Fisher, Bryant and Ron Artest (now World Metta Peace) on the floor with two of the Bynum/Gasol/Odom group, they scored 111.9 points per 100 possessions. That was more than two points per 100 possessions better than the No. 1 offensive team in the league (Denver), and that's with both Fisher and Artest shooting less than 40 percent from the field for the season.
But when the Lakers went to their bench, they really fell off offensively. All other Laker lineups scored just 104.4 points per 100 possessions, which was slightly below league-average efficiency.
|* Fisher + Bryant + Artest + two of Bynum/Gasol/Odom|
Over the course of the season, the Lakers outscored their opponents by 501 points. Almost all of that came in the time they had five of their six best players on the floor, which was less than half of their total minutes.
In the 2009-10 season, the "other" lineups were a plus-142. And in 2008-09 (swapping Artest for Trevor Ariza and with Bynum playing only 50 games), they were a plus-461.
You would think that a team with as much talent as the Lakers would have a relatively balanced offense. But Bryant led the league in usage rate, using 33 percent of his team's possessions when he was on the floor.
At the tender age of 32, Bryant registered his highest usage rate since the Lakers acquired Gasol -- but was that a bad thing? L.A. was a terrific offensive team, scoring 110.5 points per 100 possessions, when Bryant was in the game. And he was a somewhat efficient scorer, ranking 23rd in true shooting percentage* among the top 50 in usage rate.
*True shooting percentage = Points / (2*(FGA+(0.44*FTA)))
On the flip side, Bryant's true shooting percentage has dropped each of the last four seasons from a career-high 58.0 percent in 2006-07 to 54.8 percent last year. And it can be argued that Bryant's ball dominance when he was on the floor hurt the Lakers when he was on the bench, as the team scored just 101.7 points per 100 possessions in the 1,188 minutes when Bryant wasn't in the game.
The Lakers also got worse offensively as the game went on. Statistically, they were the best first-half team in the league. But they were only the 10th best second-half team, because they fell off both offensively and defensively after the break.
Lakers efficiency by period
The offensive drop-off wasn't too drastic and can be tied to Bryant's minutes. The fourth was, by far, his worst shooting quarter, but the Lakers still scored 110 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor in the final period. He just averaged fewer minutes (6.2) in the fourth than he did in any other quarter.
Defense was the bigger problem in the second half. And in every quarter, the Lakers were worse defensively when Bryant was on the floor than when he was on the bench.
Pace: 88.8 (11)
Offense: 105.3 (3)
Defense: 106.0 (12)
With their defense falling apart in Games 1 and 4, the Lakers took six games to get past the New Orleans Hornets. Then they got absolutely scorched in four games against the Mavs, allowing more than 113 points per 100 possessions in the series.
The Lakers' offense was really only good enough to win one game. It scored 107 points per 100 possessions in Game 3, but just 95 in the other three games.
Somehow, the lineup of Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol was a plus-nine in the series, allowing just 75 points per 100 possessions. But it only played 17 minutes together in three games (Artest was suspended for Game 3). The Laker starters (with Bynum and Gasol on the frontline) were a minus-20 in 51 minutes.
Brown comes to L.A. with a deserved reputation for being a defensive coach. In his five seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs were a top-seven defensive team three times. And though they never won a championship (or a game in The Finals), they were the No. 1 defensive team in the playoffs for three straight years (2006-07 through '08-09).
Brown's defenses were consistently strong in defending 2-point shots, defending 3-point shots, and defensive rebounding. They weren't so great at forcing turnovers or keeping their opponents off the free throw line.
But the latter is where the Lakers have been very strong the last few seasons. Last year, they allowed the fewest free throws in the league, just over 21 per 100 possessions.
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